working with a graphic designer:
the design process and how projects unfold
“Designers are creative partners who utilize aesthetic tools to communicate your message more effectively”
Never worked with a graphc designer or a creative professional before? Wonder how things unfold? Then this information is for you. It’s been created to provide an overview and answer some frequently asked questions and explain general studio policies.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that when working with a designer – or other visual professional, you ARE in a business relationship. As all businesses have policies in some form – graphic design is no different.
As for the design process, it’s one which unfolds between a creative and the client. Through an initial gathering of info, designers essentially interpret and transform your ideas through our creative concepts so that they may be translated into a unique finished product which communicates your message to your audience. Having these studio policies in place helps to avoid “grey areas” and misunderstandings.
faqs — frequently asked questions and design studio policies
- who is the right graphic designer or visual professional for your needs?
- how do you begin on a project?
- what is the actual design process?
- what is the time frame on a project?
- what is the pricing, fees and payment process?
- do you provide website design?
- do you offer website updates & maintenance – including WordPress sites?
- is SEO (search engine optimization) really necessary for a website?
- what are the client’s responsibilities and necessary communication?
- what are your policies on project usage?
- why are your design prices not listed?
- do you offer retainers? how do they work?
- do you provide pro-bono work or discounted rates?
- what kinds of clients do you typically work with?
- do you have client testimonials?
Whether or not a designer is a good fit for your project can have several different factors including styles, your budget vs. a designer’s fees as well as a designer’s availability for your time-frame. Taking time to review a creative’s portfolio can aid in dertmining if their style is right for your project. As a design partner, my goal is to work with you to bring your vision to life. It’s also about communicating and educating the client as to why something may or may not work as well as offering sound options or solutions.
There is the initial inquiry, followed by the Project Qualifying Questionnaire which s a few short questions to gather pertinent information, get a sense of your objectives, gauge your level of commitment to a project and to see if we may be a good fit moving forward. Upon assessment of the information provided, it will determine whether we will move forward with a consultation.
Consultations are done by phone and the first 1/2 hour is complimentary. Should your requirements exceed that, then it will be billed at an hourly rate based on a 1 hour minimum. If we determine that we are a good fit, then an estimate of the services to be provided for the project will be drawn up. All projects are executed on a contract basis. If the terms are accepted, and upon your signature along with a 50% deposit* which needs to be presented at that time and needs to clear depending on payment form, the project will then commence. This time frame can vary – but generally 7-10 days. (*note: the 50% deposit is non-refundable)
Requesting a deposit to begin work on a project makes sense for both parties. It helps set appropriate boundaries and expectations. It also protects the creative, while establishing accountability to the client.
The design process can vary depending on the type of project. Generally speaking, once all the pertinent info has been gathered, contract signed and deposit received, approximately 2 to 3 initial rough comps are created based on the style and parameters of the project estimate. One design concept is chosen by the client and further developed by the designer. As the chosen design is refined, project proofs are presented to review and or submit changes. All project proofs are provided via email in a .pdf or .jpeg format. (these are Low Resolution files for proofing purposes ONLY).
3 rounds of design changes are included/built into the initial project estimate. If more changes are requested beyond the inclusive 3 rounds, then they are subject to an hourly surcharge and billed accordingly based on a one hour minimum at $75 per hour on top of the original project estimate.
Unlimited changes are not offered as they are not time or cost effective and ultimately cause more confusion than clarity. The design is then finalized and delivered in the necessary file formats depending if this is a print project (high resolution files) or formats for the web. Final payment and or balance due is required at this time in order for the project to be delivered.
Time frame can vary depending on which projects are currently in the queue as well as the scope and or complexity of a print, web or SEO project.Once a deposit has cleared, then design drafts begin. Since the initial concepting process is the most labor intensive, the turn around time can vary and can take one to two weeks to show the designs.
There is an open line of communication with the client at all times (predominately via email). In the case of projects such as brochures, site maintenance etc, it is imperative that the client provide all of the necessary content including text, photos & images, logos in a timely manner to ensure the project flow.
Failure to provide this vital info can stall the project and delay the completion date at no fault of the designer. After the initial comp phase, a project moves more quickly — provided that all essential and necessary elements have been sumitted by the client.
Project pricing can vary greatly and is determined at the time of estimate. All projects are executed on a contract basis. A contract helps to align the work relationship right from the start and helps define the scope and payment terms.
There is a 50% non-refundable deposit to begin a project. It MUST be obtained at the time of the signing of the contract and before any work will commence. This secures a space in the project queue as well as reflecting a client’s commitment to the project. Payment is due IN FULL at the completion/deliverable of a project.
For smaller hourly projects with an established client, you can expect to be invoiced at the end of the month and mid-month depending on the extent of the work. Payment is due IN FULL within 7 days of invoicing or late fees may also apply.
Print design projects such as brochures, postcards, business cards etc DO NOT include actual printing costs. However, If you require bids for your design projects that are to be printed, they may be obtained upon request.
Payment options are either via check or PayPal invoicing.
While Future Primitive does not directly accept Credit Cards, you can however use a CC via PayPal.
ASAP = rush charges and can vary depending on the urgency of the project but average from 50% up to 200%. Under a 3 day tunraround starts at a 50% rush charge and goes up from there. Much like FedX, 2 Day Air or Urgent Care, it’s like expedited design at a premium. Needing to bump someone else’s project or burning the midnight oil for your project deadline means you gotta pay a bit extra. One needs to understand the difference between a "Nice to Have" or an "Urgent" – Mission Critical project.
Cancellation or Kill fees may apply if a job gets cancelled midway through production and it is appropriate to compensate the designer for the work they have completed thus far. This is generally referred to as a "kill fee", and commonly is paid in a percentage of either 50% if pre production work has been done, or 100% if the project is in production or completed.
Future Primitive Graphics is no longer creating, building or developing any NEW websites.
However, it continues to offer website maintenance, updates and SEO (search engine optimization) for existing websites. The creation of graphical supporting content and or imagery for websites such as headers, banners, logos etc is also still available.
Yes. Website maintenance and updates services to existing websites is still an offerred service. Ongoing updates are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Maintaining and updating your website should be done on a consistent basis. Freshness and relevancy matters to both your customers and Search Engines.
For WordPress sites, it’s incredibly important to stay updated with the latest WP version. Very often these releases include security updates to protect your site. Your plug-ins and theme may also require updating. And your WP site should be backed-up regularly to prevent content loss. YES, this can happen!
YES! SEO is necessary to rank in Search Engines but it’s a “Marathon NOT a Sprint”. Competition is fierce for top placement in Organic and Local Searches so a well optimized website is vital and should not be overlooked. Monitoring your traffic and site performance via Google Analytics is extremely important. It can give you a snapshot so that you may change what is not working. And if your current website is not perfoming well, you may not need a radical redesign — just some thorough optimization.
Important Note on SEO: Search engine optimization is constantly evolving and many factors now make up an effective SEO strategy. And Google’s algorithms are constantly changing which can and do affect Organic Search results SEO is NOT a one time set-it and forget it thing!.
As stated above it is imperative that clients provide ALL of the necessary content in a timely manner and it is their responsibility to review & understand the terms of a project contract. During project development, the lines of communication are kept open and accessible with consistent updates during normal business hours M-F 9:00 to 5:00 MST – which is done predominately via email.
Please Note: it is the client’s responsibility to respond to designer questions/provide feedback on proofs promptly so that the project may be completed on time. Clients’ communication delays WILL affect a project’s completion date at no fault of the designer. Client delays can also potentially “shelve” a project thus forfeiting the deposit and necessitating the project be re-estimeted along with a resume fee before work may again commence.
Project designs are single-use (one time usage rights apply) unless otherwise specified withn the terms of the project contract. Any other usage of said materials/designs must be negotiated and authorized by Future Primitive Graphics at an additional fee to be determined. Custom Logo designs allows unlimited usage by the client.
Future Primitive Graphics retains personal rights to use the completed project and any preliminary designs for the purpose of marketing this studio’s business and addition to FPG’s portfolio, for educational purposes and/or future publications on design.
Please Note: All reproduction rights on the Copyrighted original artwork/designs created are retained by Future Primitive Graphics. The artwork/designs may not be reproduced in any form without written consent and authorization. Future Primitive Graphics retains all original native source files and are the property of this studio. Requested release of said source files is subject to additional fees and costs to be determined.
The investment necessary to bring a project to its fruition varies based on a client’s requirements, the project scope, appropriate design styles/trends and the technologies utilized for its proper execution. The design landscape is vast, varied and changes rapidly. The way we market and promote our businesses has changed thus projects are assessed individually and estimated accordingly upon completion of an initial new project consultation.
Yes. If you have recurring monthly needs for graphic design, site maintenance or SEO, setting up a retainer may be an excellent option for your onging needs.
A retainer fee works like a monthly fee but since its purpose is to retain me as your designe, it is paid up front before any work is ordered. You are, in a sense, pre-ordering the designer’s time. The designer anticipates work from the client and blocks out the appropriate amount of time in their schedule to accommodate the client work. Learn more about creative services retainers here.
To maintain universal professionalism, Future Primitive Graphics does not offer “discounted rates”. However, depending on the current studio project load, one (maybe two) pro-bono projects may be accepted per year. There are certain criteria that needs to be met in order to determine whether or not a project or organization qualifies for pro-bono work.
Being part of these special projects can be very rewarding. However, honoring all requests is not possible. Please contact Future Primitive for more info on pro-bono projects.
Clients span diverse industries with particular attention on serving socially and environmentally engaged companies. Creative collaborations are with those who want to make the world a better place with their products or services. For moral or ethical reasons, there are certain types of businesses this studio chooses not to work with.
You may also learn more about working with Future Primitive Graphics by clicking here.
Yes. You may review feedback from successfully completed projects via the client testimonials page.
This Studio does not work “on a speculative basis” which means “free work to see if you like it”. AND fully supports NO!SPEC & ANTISPEC in its efforts to communicate why this practice devalues the entire design community which in turn has negative impacts on the client as well.